Monday, 13 June 2016

Hope and Red by Jon Skovron

Summary: In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose. A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance. A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist. When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible.

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Publication date: 30/06/16

Hope and Red is an adult high fantasy with cross over appeal. It features pirates, thieves, and the beginnings of an awesome romance. It wasn't on my radar until Erin from WrathsQueen's Books mentioned it in one of her wrap up videos. After hearing how much she loved it I looked it up on GoodReads and immediately added it to my to-read shelf. I then went onto NetGalley in the hopes of finding it up for review, which luckily it was!

POV's. The book alternates between Hope and Red's POV, starting with when they were younger and moving onto the present. Usually this doesn't work for me, because it either feels jumpy or rushed, Skovron, however did an excellent job with the time lapse. It made me get to know the characters and understand their motives and why they were the way they were in the present. Ultimately Skovrons decision to show and not tell worked, it made me feel more connected to the characters. 

Main characters: Hope and Red. The two main characters are kind of opposites, Red is like fire whereas Hope is like ice. Hope has been trained secretly trained to be a warrior and she has this quiet strength and determination which I really admire. I also like that she is honourable and doesn't have blood-lust or kill just because she can as I'm not really a fan of violence just for the sake of violence. And Red is a thief and con artist, who is charming and just down right lovable. Although opposites Hope and Red complement each other perfectly, and when about half way into the book they cross paths and team up on a mutual goal of vengeance things get even more exciting.

Secondary characters. Sometimes I feel like secondary characters are kind of just there to propel the main characters forward, but that wasn't the case here. The secondary characters in Hope and Red are all fleshed out with interesting back stories; it's hard not to like them. My faves in particular were Nettle, a bodyguard of sorts for a brothel (whose blooming friendship with Hope I adored) and Filler, Red's loyal best friend.

Romance. There is hints of what could potentially be an amazing romance in Hope and Red, and I am so shipping it and looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next book.

On his Twitter bio the author, Jon Skovron, describes Hope and Red as the "1st book in [his] swashbuckling kung fu gangster pirate romance trilogy" and I think it's the perfect description.


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Tides by Alex Lidell - Nominate for a chance to get a free e-copy!

Hey, guys!

Alex Lidell, author of The Cadet of Tildor -one of my favourite books of 2013- has a book up on Kindle Scout called Tides. It's a YA fantasy, described as "Tamora Pierce meets the Age of Sail". If that seems like your thing you could get a free e-copy if you nominate it and it gets selected for publication! So, click here if you'd like to do that. The link also includes an excerpt from the book.

Nile, Princess of Ashing, was groomed to command her kingdom’s fleet—until she lost the key to the enemy’s cipher. Expelled from the navy and facing forced marriage, Nile disguises herself as a lowly sailor and enlists to a ship patrolling a distant outpost. With a cowardly captain, lazy crew, and a cruel, too-handsome, first officer, the ship falls gravely short of Nile's standards. But when the outpost turns vital to Ashing's survival, this ship and crew are all Nile has to save her kingdom. 
- Renu

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Last Star by Rick Yancey

Summary: We’re here, then we’re gone, and that was true before they came. That’s always been true. The Others didn’t invent death; they just perfected it. Gave death a face to put back in our face, because they knew that was the only way to crush us. It won’t end on any continent or ocean, no mountain or plain, jungle or desert. It will end where it began, where it had been from the beginning, on the battlefield of the last beating human heart.

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When I first read The 5th Wave in 2013 I was blown away. I read it during a time where I was craving a good YA sci-fi book that could potentially match my love for Partials by Dan wells -one of my favourite books of 2012- and the 5th Wave was exactly that. I gave it 4 hearts and the sequel, The Infinite Sea, I gave 3.5 hearts, because although I liked it I didn't quite enjoy it as much.

I loved Cassie's snarky, sarcastic, and at times philosophical personality in the first book. However, in The Infinite Sea I found it hard to get on with her, because I felt as though she spent most of the book moping over Evan. A boy and romance I couldn't care less about (honestly if Evan wasn't in this book it still would have been the same. His character was so pointless, the little page time he did have was so Cassie could say things like "His face lit up when he saw me...his eyes drank me in. Oh, the Evanness of it all, how he gulps down my presence like a guy stumbling upon an oasis in the desert." *gags* I also found it strange that after Ringer revealed *highlight to read spoiler* he and all the Silencers weren't actually Others, but humans, we didn't get to read  how he felt about that). It was Ringer who stole the show in TIS, she was amazing and I remember rooting for her through out. In the Last Star, however, I'm happy to report that Cassie is back to usual sassy, brave, and deeply caring self.

After the events of the previous book you can clearly see a change in the characters - from Ringer and Zombie, to Cassie and Sam. Doing what's right and wrong is no longer easy to differentiate. When do you cross a line? And what would you do to save humanity and the ones you care about?

Sam has had to grow up fast and see things no one should have to see at his age. His relationship with Cassie in this book is strained, and I really felt for her as she tried to re-connect with her brother. Zombie totally won me over in The Last Star, you can really see how much he's developed and grown as a character. He held the group together, imo, and his determination to keep everyone safe was admirable.

I have to admit I had a feeling what happened in the end would happen, and I think it was a good ending. I don't think it could have ended any other way without it feeling unnatural and forced.

Overall, I've decided to give The Last Star 3 hearts, because it was a solid conclusion to the trilogy. Also, because I've come to the realisation that I'm kind of over post-apocalyptic books, they just don't hold the same excitement as they once did.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Mini review: Bluescreen by Dan Wells

Summary: Los Angeles in 2050 is a city of open doors, as long as you have the right connections. One of those connections is a djinni—a smart device implanted right in a person’s head. In a world where virtually everyone is online twenty-four hours a day, this connection is like oxygen—and a world like that presents plenty of opportunities for someone who knows how to manipulate it.

Marisa Carneseca is one of those people. She might spend her days in Mirador, the small, vibrant LA neighborhood where her family owns a restaurant, but she lives on the net—going to school, playing games, hanging out, or doing things of more questionable legality with her friends Sahara and Anja. And it’s Anja who first gets her hands on Bluescreen—a virtual drug that plugs right into a person’s djinni and delivers a massive, non-chemical, completely safe high. But in this city, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Mari and her friends soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that is much bigger than they ever suspected.

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I love Dan Wells' Partials trilogy, so I was really looking forward to Bluescreen.

As with his other YA trilogy the characters in Bluescreen were ethnically diverse, which I liked. When POC aren't present in books, it just seems ridiculous to me since, hey, we live in a diverse world! It upsets me to say then that I didn't actually like any of the characters including the mc, Marisa. They frustrated me for different reasons which I won't go into, because I'll end up going on a bit of a rant.

The pacing of the book was quite slow, it took a while for it to finally take off. The constant info dumping didn't do much to help, either. The explanations and unnecessary details every other page took me out of the story, and therefore made me uninterested in what was going on.

Despite not enjoying Bluescreen I'm still anticipating Dan Wells' standalone novel which comes out later this year. Hopefully I'll be able to get on with it a lot better than I got on with this book!


Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

GoodReads: London, April 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation to the Queen. Her life should be about gowns and dancing, and securing a suitable marriage. Instead, when one of her family's housemaids goes missing, Lady Helen is drawn to the shadows of Regency London.

There, she finds William, the Earl of Carlston. He has noticed the disappearance, too, and is one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of powerful demons that has infiltrated every level of society. But Lady Helen’s curiosity is the last thing Carlston wants—especially when he sees the searching intelligence behind her fluttering fan. Should Helen trust a man whose reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her headstrong sense of justice lead them both into a death trap?

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Alison Goodman's Eon duology is on my all time favourites shelf, I've read it twice and am thinking about reading it for a third time this year. After my latest re-read of the duology I wondered whether Goodman was working on anything new, so I visited her website and found out she was! I was super pumped, and remember constantly visiting the website to keep up to date with her progress on it. Then as you can imagine when the title, synopsis and release date was finally revealed I was like GIMME.

Set in the Regency period with a supernatural twist The Dark Days Club is a slow paced book, and I don't think this will work for everyone. I am happy to report, however, that I personally didn't mind it, because I was so immersed in the world and characters. Intelligent, fierce, and kind Helen is a mc that I was easily able to root for. In TDDC she struggles with the constraints of the time period,  but it's soon clear that she is not really one to be bound by the expectations of society. As her world slowly unravels and she is introduced to the supernatural she is forced to decide - will she help fight against the supernatural or will she turn a blind eye to it all and lead a normal life?

In term of secondary characters I enjoyed Helen's relationship with her maid, Darby, the two made quite the team. I also confess myself intrigued by the Duke of Selburn, and am hoping to learn more about his past in book two.

There isn't really much romance in TDDC, it's more like the sparks of one to come, which I liked. When a romance peaks too early on in a book I just can't get on board with it. I've found that I prefer slow build ups  that are full of tension (e.g. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, Poison Study by Maria V Snyder, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi) that's the best kind of romance for me.

If you're into historical fantasy TDDC might be something you'd enjoy. I found it to be a brilliant read, and look forward to picking up the sequel when it's released.


Thursday, 7 April 2016

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

GoodReads: In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

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Initially, I was a bit unsure about Truthwitch, because I didn't enjoy the author's debut novel Something Strange and Deadly. In fact I ended up DNFing it. In the end, however, the buzz led me to the GR summary of the book, and I have to admit I was intrigued. Firstly, because it's high fantasy (my favourite genre), and secondly because the summary promised action/adventure and a female friendship. 

Although I wasn't massively blown away I really did enjoy Truthwitch, it was action packed from start to finish. I also liked the strong friendship between Safiya and Iseult, it's not too often I see female friendships like this one in YA. My favourite out of the two leading ladies is Iseult. Don't get me wrong I didn't exactly hate Safiya, but her hot-headedness and the fact that she just did things without thinking them through frustrated me to no end. I didn't care for the romance between Safiya and Merik. It was too...obvious? As much as I thought they were interesting as individuals I didn't quite feel anything towards them as a couple. As for Iseult, I probably shouldn't, but I ship her and Aeduan. Every time they were in a scene together I was all *_*. Aeduan was such a complex and layered character; I hope we learn more about him in the sequel. Finally, the world presented in Truthwitch was interesting, but the actual world building was shaky. We are introduced to a lot of new terms, etc, but there isn't much of an explanation into it all. So, I'm hoping we'll learn more about the world in the sequel.

To conclude, I'm glad the hype surrounding Truthwitch led me to read the GR summary and consequently pick up the book, because it was awesome.


Monday, 4 April 2016

Recently... (#4)

Hey, guys! Here's what I've been up to lately...


Beastly by Alex Flinn (audiobook)
I've been wanting to pick this up ever since I saw the movie. It was by no means the best book I've ever read, but I went into it wanting a quick read that was enjoyable and that's exaclty what I got.

A photo posted by Renu (@tthepageturner) on

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannnon
I read TBS for the 4th time, because I am OBSESSED.

A photo posted by Renu (@tthepageturner) on

- Renu
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